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Background Check Initiative Earns Spot on November Ballot


AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense today celebrated Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s certification of a ballot initiative to close a dangerous loophole in Maine’s background check law for the November 2016 ballot.

Maine Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, a broad coalition of volunteers, gun owners and gun violence survivors, collected signatures from every town and city in Maine to place the question on the ballot.

“More than 200 hardworking and dedicated volunteers helped to make this day possible. Our coalition continues to grow every day as more and more people join the campaign for common-sense background check reforms that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Jackie Sartoris, a volunteer with Maine Moms Demand Action. “Closing the background check loophole will save lives.”

The Maine Background Check Initiative, which is supported by 80 percent of Maine voters, would require criminal background checks for all gun sales in the state, with reasonable exceptions for family, hunting, and self-defense.

Under current law, background checks are only required for gun sales conducted by licensed dealers. But people can easily and anonymously buy guns from unlicensed sellers – often from strangers met online, at gun shows or through classified ads – with no background check required, no questions asked. The initiative closes this loophole, requiring that everyone in Maine who buys a gun gets the same criminal background check, no matter where they buy it or who they buy it from.

“While this initiative will not prevent every tragedy, it will make Maine safer and save lives,” said Judi Richardson of South Portland, whose daughter, Darien, died nearly six years ago as a result of gunshot wounds. Judi and Wayne Richardson are two of the citizen sponsors of the ballot measure. “We cannot bring Darien back, but we are committed to preventing other Maine parents from suffering the unimaginable pain we have experienced after Darien’s death.”

Maine Moms Demand Action submitted more than 85,000 signatures to the Secretary of State on Jan. 19. Today, the Secretary of State certified that the campaign has surpassed the number of signatures required to place a question on November’s ballot.

The measure is strongly supported by Mainers across the political spectrum, including a majority of gun owners and non-gun owners. Law enforcement officers, domestic violence prevention advocates and sportsmen are part of the coalition uniting in support of the common-sense measure.

“Mainers have a strong tradition of hunting and lawful gun ownership,” said Bucky Owens, former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. “This ballot measure respects our Second Amendment rights while recognizing that with rights come with responsibilities, such as the responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”